When I started to write about my passion on chocolate back in 2008, it was because I wanted to share with all my friends, and their friends, what chocolate could really taste like. But also because something new was knocking at the gates of cacao heaven.
Some new brands where showing up on selected shelves. It wasn’t new wrappers for an old story, but genuine new approaches to appreciating cacao flavors, production scale and technique, nourishing a new philosophy on chocolate. All this time later it has become much more tangible and palatable.
And I believe it’s only just starting. To date, as far as I would judge, there are two big trends that are currently at work reshaping a new world of cacao.
1. Small-scale artisan chocolate.
There is definitely a new class of chocolate makers. They are small scale, small batch, open for improving, and cherish an open relation towards the sourced cacao, ideally with the farmers beyond. They elaborate a process and fit the cacao into it.
I believe the vision was – somehow surprisingly, then again not really – ignited in the US, by the likes of Amano, Partric, Rogue Chocolatier, Theo, Askinosie, not to forget Steve Devries… who have been inspiring Fresco, Mast Brothers, Ritual, Dandelion, WoodBlock, Madre and some more.
These brands all with their own stories are spreading to inspire in turn new European brands, in growing regions like Naive, Bojesen, Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé, and on the other sides of the world starters like Australian Bahen, Danta in Guetemale and even a Marou in Vietnam.
I have had the luck to share several days with some of these new chocolate makers on a cacao tour in Costa Rica. Their backgrounds are very different, from software engineers to winemakers, but one thing keeps them together: making great chocolate in the first place. Origins and limited editions come and go, led by availabilty and quality.
2. Locally produced origin chocolate.
On the other side we also see chocolate companies supporting local production, as a counter movement for the past century. A new way of putting sustainability into chocolate production. Chocolate has been typically a “disrupted product” from the view that stakeholders for growing cacao ‘there’ and those producing ‘here’, where having no relation at all.
Brands like Pacari, Amma, Madecasse, Daintree, Menakao, Sibu, Grenada Chocolate Co have been paving ways and are all contributing to this new philosophy. Providing work, knowledge and pride to the local community, it’s stands for a different approach on sustainable thinking in the world of cacao. Their position is more complex than those mentioned above, here people prevail.
They are less to focus on artisan scale and origins, but envision more human & community driven values, driven and supported with the fine production of top quality cacao.
New micro trends are rising already. However, the goal isn’t to provide and divide all available brands in this post, sorry if I haven’t mentioned your favorite brand. Please share your comments on this post if you like to.
But it’s absolutely a key thing to know that cacao and chocolate are moving forward, that the bars you taste are not one-day hit wonders, and that people are passionately putting their hearts and hands to work for sharing wonderful cacao tastes with us.
I hope you will support and encourage the new wave of cacao. Keep it rolling, by appreciating the wonderful chocolate bars that are coming your way.